May 8th, 2009
11:58 PM ET

Mama said there'll be blogs like this

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/08/art.jack.mom.jpg caption="Jack's mom, Maria Papaioanou Gray." width=292 height=320]

Jack Gray
AC360° Producer/Writer

Michelle Obama says her most important job is that of Mom-in-Chief. I can't imagine anyone would disagree with her. George Washington once said, "All I am I owe to my mother." The same is true for me. No one has had more of an impact on my life than my mother. Except for perhaps the good people at Hostess Powdered Donettes.

To know my mother – her name is Maria, cue the song from West Side Story – is to love her. Smart, funny, beautiful, the list of her attributes goes on and on. At least it will until she pays off my credit card.

It's a bittersweet thing to consider, one's relationship with a parent. My mother is the person who tucked me in at night, cut the crusts off my sandwiches and taught me that stealing candy bars is wrong. But enough about her visit to New York last week.

Actually, I see my mom all too infrequently. Not because I haven't offered to drive up to her house in New England, but because she's always so busy, even on the weekends. You know how it is...gardening, singing karaoke, wrestling alligators.

Nevertheless, I know she's happy for me. I can hear the pride in her voice. Unless that's just the red wine.

Like any mother, mine is concerned about my quality of life. She's mellowed over the years, though I'm not sure she'll ever be entirely convinced I didn't move to New York to "smoke the pot" and turn tricks on the West Side Highway.

Not that I haven't given her reason to worry in years past. She once busted me for having a party while she was out of town. I thought I had covered my tracks pretty well. But apparently – as a non-smoker – she found it odd that there were matches in her bed.

And sure, I once forged her name on a car loan, but I still say that was more the fault of whoever designed the sexy Ford Focus.

Anyway, I'm 28 years-old now. And even though I like to think of myself as my own person living my own life, I still have occasional anxiety about letting my mother down. How much is "occasional?" Well, let's just say my therapist drives a Jaguar.

I never mention my neuroses to my mother because I know what she'll say. You could never disappoint me. Just remember what I taught you: work hard, be humble and never call during Jerry Springer.

By the way, I joke about my mother because I love her and because she has a great sense of humor. But one thing that I won't joke about is her gift as a schoolteacher. She is the epitome of everything an outstanding educator should be: dedicated, caring and brilliant. I honor my mother and all the under-appreciated teachers like her who work – thanklessly and tirelessly – each and every day.

So, on that note: Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you more than any blog could ever express. And, yes, I took my vitamin today.

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soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Roz

    I am blessed to have had your mom as my friend for almost twenty years! She is SPECTACULAR in every way and is gorgeous inside and out!!!! She is SO VERY special to SO many – I am truly honored to know her........ you and your sister are blessed beyond words!!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  2. Terry, TX

    Sweet story.

    May 11, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  3. David, Indiana

    Nice article Jack. Thank you for helping to put me in the Mother's Day spirit. It's not too hard to take some time to thank my mom for being who she is and it's always good to know that I've made her happy, my dad too for that matter. In the hustle and tussle of daily life it seems like that simple idea can get lost now and then. But there's no reason that has to be the case. Anyway that's a thought.

    May 11, 2009 at 2:41 am |
  4. Rose from Muscoy, Calif

    I can't say the same Jack, I was raised by my great aunt Jaunita Olmos off and on through my life because of my disabities I was abused by my own parents. My great-aunt finally took me in when I was 71/2 years old. I wasn't even going to school yet because no schools here didn't even have a Special Education program for children like myself. So, my great-aunt fought for my education she knew if she didn't I would end-up in a State Hospital with no hope of a normal life. With many years of Speical Ed. and Speech Therapy, plus the support of my great-aunt"s family. I graduated from High School and took art course"s and then some.
    Even thou she's passed on since, I will never forget her, especially today.
    In the heaven's the angel's called your name on this day.

    You have earn those Silver wings, fly with the angels, MOM.


    May 10, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  5. Ratna, New York, NY

    Dear Jack,

    If you would like to pay your mother back, then here is a tip: Already browse your way around the health care system for aging Americans and make sure there is a guest-room at your place (in the future) where grandma can stay over. The truth is that more and more aging Americans rely on their children for care. You might have to look into policies (which do not exist yet) that fully support home care coverage. Just increasing more awareness on this issue is enough to pay your mother back.

    May 10, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  6. Art

    Nice going Jack! Happy mom's day to all!

    May 10, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  7. LolaB77

    Great blog for Mommy Day! I have to go call my mom now...you just made me feel guilty...need powdered sugar to erase this pain.

    May 10, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  8. andres

    im glad i am not the only one. My relationship with mom is very similar and i am just coming down the peak/ denoument of my parking tickets etc... im younger then 28 though...

    May 10, 2009 at 6:07 am |
  9. Miss J

    Jack, your mom looks like she could play a mom on TV. Does she watch any of those Lifetime movies? She could play a mom on one of those movies. She looks like the perfect fit.

    May 9, 2009 at 9:16 pm |
  10. Mary

    I cannot believe you are only 28, you are too wise and cynical. I really thank you for valuing your mom. It is something that a mom will never forget. Happy Mother's Day to your mom. I am sure she is proud of you.

    May 9, 2009 at 8:41 pm |
  11. Ashley, NY

    Great blog! Glad to hear a shout out for the teachers 🙂 I am one as well. Keep the blogs comin'.

    May 9, 2009 at 7:55 pm |
  12. Ayse_London@twitter

    Jack, I read the blog you wrote regarding your love for your grannies, and now this wonderful piece about your mummy which are so adorable.,,,I'll really look forward to a blog regarding the first time you took a girlfriend to meet the family 🙂

    May 9, 2009 at 7:03 pm |
  13. Arlana Bradanese

    Jack, I love you and your gorgeous mom!! Lana from West Newbury likes this article ALOT!! So proud of you.....Happy Mother's Day Mrs. Gray!!!

    May 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  14. Richard F.

    Very cute story, Jack! May your mom have a fantastic mother's day! You're a great writer and I'm sure that'll make mom proud!

    May 9, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  15. Andrea Short Hills, NJ

    Jack, you are absolutely adorable! Your writing is tops and always makes me smile! I am so glad you wrote about your beautiful mom in your Mother's Day blog. And that you salute teachers. My mom was also an amazing teacher. The great ones stay with you always and never get the kudos they deserve. They don't complain because they love what they do, get gratification from being with their students and interacting with them. Because they give so much to their students it is the gift that keeps on giving. Often for generations! Thanks Jack, and to all at CNN, have a great Mother's Day.

    May 9, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  16. Susan Williamson

    Recently I heard a saying regarding a parents love. "You hold their hand for awhile. You hold their heart forever". As always, your article was enjoyed.

    May 9, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  17. Tracy Solomon

    A good sense of humor is a necessity. It makes life so much more colorful and easier to face. I loved your dedication via your blog to your Mom. Maybe she can talk you into a book?? You can dedicate to your Mom.

    May 9, 2009 at 8:14 am |
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